Last week Tuesday, October 27, 2009, was rather eventful, including a Chinese Buffet lunch
and an evening lecture as part of a series of World War 2 stories
offered by the WORLD WAR II ORAL HISTORY CLUB of Columbia, PA.
The buffet is (planned to be) reported here,
and the story on the WW2 follows below:


Ben Oostdam story # 533

BATTLE OF THE BULGE

While waiting for the speaker, Sergeant Tomas (Wally) Clarke,
26th Infantry Division - Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient
who was in the Battle of the Bulge
and authored the book: "George S. Patton's Typical Soldier" ...

where was I ?? ...

... Harry and I looked at the book and documents prominently
displayed on some tables at the front of the auditorium.
I admired the author's hand drawn maps
and wondered if we should buy a copy at the rate of $ 36.06 incl. tax
I decided I would because I felt sorry for the speaker thinking there
would not be too many thrifty Lancastrians to buy a copy at that cost.
Harry said he would not, but offered me a loan when I could
only come up with $ 20.
It so happened that he and I had exactly $ 36 between he two of us.
So I told the lady in charge(Pamela Haines of Life Reloaded)
that I would order a copy if she dropped the price to $ 36...

She said she would help me, but just at that moment the speaker arrived.
While she went to her seat, she put a dime in my hand

I enjoyed the fascinating talk by Wally, and commented on his remark
that General Patton used to refer to "Jeeps" as "Peeps",
that we had a famous Tom Herman song in Amsterdam going like...
"Toet - Peep - daar heb je de jeep..........van Jansen ...

where was I ?? ...

well, right after the talk Harry introduced me to a Mr Mast,
a Dutchman hailing from Schiedam who had some weeks ago given a talk
here about the fate of a Dutch schoolboy in WW2 ...so no need for me to do so

where was I? ...

Anyhow, there also was long line of people who wanted to chat
and get Wally to sign his book.
Although I would have loved to share my experiences
about Bastogne, this seemed not to be the right occasion.
Besides, I had a stomach ache - so I decided to "escape",
and not to bother Pamela - who was very busy ..

Because of my Calvinistic upbringing, however, I felt guilty,
so I called Barb, Harry's wife, the next morning to see if
she knew Pamela...? I explained my quandary and she kindly
deculpated me - "because my intentions had been pure" ....
Later, I found a card in my pocket which the speaker had
swept off the lectern and ....which had the necessary info on it.
So I called and got the sister of Pamela, to who I explained
the situation since Pamela herself was not available.
I mentioned that I had multiplied the dime and made
a contribution that morning to the "Wounded Soldier" campaign.



So stay tuned for my own experiences with Bastogne
and the heroes of the Battle of the Bulge ...
I recall the cold Hunger Winter in Amsterdam and listening to
the illegal London radio broadcast about "Nuts"

After my graduation from grammarschool in 1950, I took a bike trip
on a heavy Dutch Fongers without gears, to visit Bastogne.
The so-called "hills" of Wally were "mountains" to me when
I had to push my heavily loaded bike all the way to their tops.
A dog ran away with the steak to which I had treated nmyself
because my expenses had averaged less than a guilder
(then about a US quarter) a day ...
so I had my share of suffering, I mean to say.

Two other memories related to my meetings with veterans of the Battle of the Bulge are copied below:
(note they both happen to be "Richards" or "Dicks")

ONE:
===============
Battle of the Bulge
In Europe, this is known as the "Battle of Bastogne" - another good alliteration.
Some 50 years later, in 1995, I happened on an article in the Lancaster New Era dealing with
the experiences of some of the local Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. I decided to send them
a postcard to thank them for having liberated us Dutch. To my surprise - and theirs, too -
the number of articles multiplied, but I consistently mailed off my thank-you's. I was awarded
for my efforts by an invitation to attend the formal commemoration of the 50th Anniversary at
the Millersville Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Building. Everyone had to give a speech, even 
"junior" who was more or less adopted on the spot as the "Little Dutch Boy whom we saved".
I was as honored as the regimental goat, and made many friends. To my surprise, my favorite 
Millersville University Dean of Science and Mathematics, Dr. Dick Sasin, already retired,
was one of the veterans, too!
=========================
Richard Sasin re BoB - Richard Sasin at Homestead

TWO:
  • =================
    C.Richard Beam
    406 Spring Drive
    Millersville PA 17551
    
    November 7, 2008:
    
    Hi Richard:
    
    It was a pleasure and honor to finally meet you and your wife
    on the occasion of oysterpie at Conestoga Waggon!
    At your request, I enclose a printout of the story of the
    first 10 years of The Marine Science Consortium,
    together with some additional printouts,
    e.g. my cv and your write up, photos of people and boats.
    Such a pity you have no access to the WWW
    (unless you want to come over and visit here, or at the MU Library
    or wherever you can gain access to the Internet -
    like Cybercafe haha, which would appeal to Viennese!)
    because my article relies heavily on "links" 
    (underligned words) which you click on a computer in order
    to get to another document or photograph....
    I noted several overlaps, like we were both at McGill in 1954
    and I spent an even shorter time at LSU and in Bastogne
    (the BULGE) than you...and several years after you, too!
    So Ich sage in mein eigenes Dobbelt Deutsch:
    underhalt doch Kontakt mitt die Dutch 
    (keep in touch with the Dutch)
    I am Emailing copy of this to the Father of PA Oceanography,
    Alex Henderson, who will be just as surprised that
    we two have managed not to meet in more than 40 years
    till the love of oysters (Ostrea virginica) in Ityalics 
    brought us together.
    Best wishes to both of you!
    And always welcome to our house, built on the final
    resting place of MSC's MAIN ...
    Ben Oostdam, 169 Slackwater Road,(Conestoga),Millersville PA 17551
    ==================
    
    Battle of the Bulge
    maps

    NOTE added 20100112: please see newspaper article about the 65th Anniversary of the Battle
    celebrated by the Millersville Veterans of Foreign Wars on December 20, 2009...